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      Bangladeshi pharma draws comparison with Ranbaxy


      London: Bangladesh's biggest pharmaceutical company, Beximco, which will soon list in London's Alternative Investment Market, has drawn comparison with Indian pharmaceutical major Ranbaxy Laboratories.

      Beximco Pharmaceuticals - which makes anti-retrovirals to treat HIV - is the first Bangladeshi company to list in the capital. It is expected to have a market value of 60 million pounds ($105 million).

      Industry insiders are already touting it as the next Ranbaxy, the Indian company that took the generic pharmaceuticals industry by storm because of its ability to circumvent the global drug patent systems, The Telegraph reported.

      India has since lost its status as a developing nation under the global patent regime, meaning Ranbaxy can only produce drugs whose patents have expired.

      Salman Rahman, chairman of Beximco, told reporters that Bangladesh, however, was expected to enjoy the least developed country (LDC) status till 2016, which would mean his company could continue to make these drugs and export them to developing countries.

      This status also means the company will be ready to export drugs to the US and elsewhere when the patents expire. Beximco hopes that the US Food and Drug Administration would approve one of its factories by next year.

      Rahman added that the listing of Beximco, which has raised 12 million pounds by issuing global depositary receipts, was just the beginning for the conglomerate.

      The company is already listed on the Dhaka exchange, and its main owners - Rahman brothers - are among the richest Men in Bangladesh. The Beximco conglomerate consists of 28 separate companies.

      Rahman said Beximco wanted to list in London for "access to global investors" and that the listing would "improve the image of Bangladesh". He said the company wanted to raise more money a few months ago, but the markets were hit by the bombings in London and Bangladesh.

      "In spite of these blasts, our team was able to convince international investors to have confidence," he said.

      The company is believed to have held talks with the World Health Organisation about supplying its cheaper drugs to the organisation's programmes.

      The Telegraph reported that this would dismay Western pharmaceutical companies, which worry about developing countries taking advantage of their lack of patent enforcement to produce cheap drugs.

      Many international pharmaceutical businesses also work with Beximco, including Glaxo Smithkline, which subcontracts to it local production of the Asthma drug Ventolin.

      October 14, 2005


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